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The Mother of Invention?

| On 31, Jul 2008

Cass PursellI’m new to working in Supply Chain and am finding it extremely interesting, challenging, and critical to the long-term success of the organization. One thing that I’ve noticed in particular is that, more than for any other business function, logistics conditions around the world are hugely variable and can be rather brutal. What seems to happen in most cases is that the difficult conditions lead inevitably to creative logistics solutions. This observation corroborates one of my favorite pet innovation theses: that a lack of resources can actually lead to innovation.

A few examples of this phenomenon from around the world:



  • In the United States, the extreme logistics condition is the short-term focus on shareholder return and return on capital. In response, an extensive set of logistics finance and performance measures have been created, as well as supply chain integration and logistics information systems focused on the reduction of capital assets.

  • In Latin America, there is limited to no logistics infrastructure or logistics service providers. In response, a new industry has developed concerned with the importation of logistics service providers and education.

  • In Japan, there is a lack of land and human resources. In response, automated storage and handling systems have been developed and perfected, and multistory logistics facilities designed.

Can organizations somehow tap into this tendency? I know my bosses have historically exhorted me to do more with less – it never occurred to me that they may have been trying to drive improved innovation.